6 Proactive Steps for Contractors During COVID-19

There are 6 proactive steps for contractors during COVID-19, to prepare for the inevitable material shortages, and the subsequent price increases, created by the pandemic fallout. 

The shortages will begin to appear in 3-6 months as the global production stoppage begins to impact building material inventories at your local supply house.

Limited supply coupled with high demand always results in higher prices, creating a “double-edged sword” of a problem for contractors. These six proactive steps for contractors during COVID-19 can minimize the effects of material shortages and price increases to you and your company.

Proactive Step 1. Increase Your Inventory

One of the best ways to ward off a looming price increase or material shortage is to simply increase your on-site inventory of needed materials and supplies.

This is especially true if your dealing with durable goods (no expiration date) that can easily be stored or warehoused. By purchasing them now, you save immediately on cost, and they are readily available for the project at any time. 

Proactive Step 2. Alternate Suppliers

Initially this may seem blatantly obvious, but it makes sense to connect and set up new accounts now, before they become needed.

You might also consider suppliers outside of your normal geographical range. Fuel prices are down across the country, so any additional transport costs from a non-local supplier could easily offset higher prices charged by a local supplier. 

Proactive Step 3. Talk to Your Competition

Chances are, you know your competitors, and who has which projects coming up and when. An informal meeting between these contractors to discuss revised completion schedules, and materials needed and when, would go a long way to keeping as many jobs running as possible during the material shortages. 

Proactive Step 4. Leveraging Future Work 

Many contractors have significant backlogs of future work at the moment. Those backlogs represent future material purchases for the suppliers.

You may be able to negotiate better everyday pricing, and a lower price increase for your company by simply leveraging your existing backlog of work.

Proactive Step 5. Update Contract Verbiage

Review all open and future project contracts for force majeure clauses. These clauses allow contractors to recoup additional costs and expenses resulting from “uncontrollable acts”, such as pandemics and global work stoppages.

The clause should be included on every contract moving forward, and it should be added to any existing contracts that don’t already have it.

Proactive Step 6. Material Quote Every Job

This makes it easier to protect pricing on a specific project, which protects your bottom line. And it keeps the project on the sales rep’s radar, so the supply house adjusts their inventory accordingly.

Both are incredibly helpful when we are looking at impending price increases for almost every contractor over the next few months.

Using just one, or several of these steps can help your company better deal with the impending material shortage, and the resulting higher material costs. Needless to say, the sooner you implement these six proactive steps for contractors during COVID-19, the more effective the results will be for you and your company.

(Written March 2020)

Six Proactive Steps for Contractors During Covid-19